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Series Finale

Photo by Keith Luke on Unsplash

BIG news: on Saturday, July 10, I finished the first draft of Until All The Stars Fall, the fourth and final book in the Heart of Fire series. This is it. The end. The completion of the saga that started when I first sat down to write in June, 2017. While I still have months ahead of rewriting, editing, and proofing before publication, this still qualifies as a major milestone.

When I started the Heart of Fire series, I thought, like the tradition, it would be a trilogy. But as I neared the end of the first book, and began mapping out what was yet to come, I realized it would probably take four books. I didn’t make a firm decision on it until I was well into writing book two, and knew for sure it would not fit in three books.

I didn’t keep track, but I can make a rough estimate that I spent at least 750 hours writing these four books. Maybe double that for all the time spent rewriting, editing, proofing, formatting, and so on. That’s a lot. When you spend that much time with people, even fictional people, you come to know them very well. Marshal, Seri, and their supporting cast, have all become real to me. I know them so much more than I did four years ago. Some of them, like Dravid, surprised me with how significant they became to the story.

And so, as I wrote “The End” on Saturday, I had quite a mixture of feelings. 

I’m happy that I’ve finished this epic undertaking. I’ve wanted to write an epic fantasy since around fifth grade, and now I have. I’m ecstatic that it’s complete.

I’m relieved that it’s over. There were a few times, especially after the release of book two, that I despaired, wondering if it was even worth it to finish. Would anyone other than friends and relatives read it?

I’m excited to finish it up with the editing and so forth, so it can get out there for you to read! I’m also excited to see what happens with the cover. I have a good idea of what I want on it, but we’ll see what the cover artist thinks.

I’m depressed that it’s over. It’s a big letdown from an emotional high. And I’m sad that this may be the last time I write these characters. (Or is it?)

One word I’ve seen other writers use is bittersweet. It’s a great word, and quite possibly the best word for this particular situation, for all the reasons I just listed.

So where do I go from here?

First of all, the Dragontek Lore series needs some love. Incarnadine is coming in a couple of months, and I need to finish up the editing and proofing of it. I’ve gotten behind on that while focusing on Until All The Stars Fall.

I’ve already written the first scene for Auric, the third book in the Dragontek Lore series. I have writing goals for 2021, and I need to keep going. That’s the next book I have in the pipeline.

Once it’s done… I’m not entirely sure. But I’ll need to make a decision in a couple of months. I could easily launch into the fourth book of Dragontek Lore (the title of which is a major spoiler). Or I could start something new. But what?

I have rough ideas for several books. One is a fantasy adventure series, not as epic as Heart of Fire, but in a similar vein. I’m still musing over a truly massive epic fantasy that I want to write, but I know that I’m not ready for it yet. I need to do a lot of research and preparation for that one.

And then there’s the other possibility. Am I really done with Antises? With the characters of the Heart of Fire series? There is plenty of room for new stories in that world. I even laid the groundwork for some of them. But is it enough to carry a new series? For some of these characters that I love so much, do I really want to put them through more trouble? Don’t they deserve a happy ending?

All heavy questions to ask. Honestly, I suppose the answer will come from the readers. If the series continues to sell well, and the demand is there… a return to Antises becomes much more likely. We’ll have to wait and see.

As always, thanks for reading!

Writing Update

Wow, I haven’t updated the blog in a while. Sorry about that.

After last month’s book launch and big giveaway, many new readers are discovering the world of Antises! If you’re one of those readers, welcome! You’re in the right place. You can also see more short posts from me on my Facebook author page. And the best way to keep up to date is with my newsletter. (Plus, you get FREE stories.) Sign up. All the cool kids are doing it.

Here’s an update on how things are going with my books here at the midpoint of this year:

Incarnadine – the editing on the sequel to Viridia has been slow lately, because I’ve been focusing more on writing. I’ll need to pick up the pace, because it will be time to start writing the third book before long!

Until All The Stars Fall – I am smack-dab in the middle of writing the climax of this book… which is really the climax of the entire Heart of Fire series. I’m definitely feeling the pressure here. I’ve already re-written several scenes, moved some characters around, and panicked over parts of it. But it’s coming together now. I hope. If I keep on schedule, the first draft will be done in just a couple of weeks.

You can see the progress bars over on the right column of this website. I keep them updated most of the time.

In the meantime, I’ll try to find time to write something more interesting here.

Oops – Kindle Unlimited

I messed up. Somehow, I failed to click the one little button that made Until All The Gods Return available on Kindle Unlimited at its launch. I have corrected that now, but Amazon takes a while to process it. If you were looking for that particular option, please be patient. It’s coming!

Launch Day! Free Book!

Until All The Gods Return is officially available today wherever you buy books! And to celebrate, the first book in the Heart of Fire series, Until All Curses Are Lifted, is absolutely FREE on Amazon all this week! What are you waiting for? Start reading!

Read Chapter Three of Until All The Gods Return

Less than two weeks until the release day! And now you can read the third chapter of Until All The Gods Return, the third book in the Heart of Fire series.

At the end of Until All Bonds Are Broken, Dravid sacrificed his freedom for Seri. He became a slave to one of the ancient gods. How’s that working out for him by now? Read and find out!

Until All The Gods Return releases on May 25.

Read Chapter One of Until All The Gods Return

The first chapter of Until All The Gods Return, book 3 in the Heart of Fire series, is now available for your reading pleasure right here.

Jamana discovers he doesn’t want to be part of an event, but leaving may not be so easy.

Remember: subscribers to the newsletter get these kind of updates much earlier AND get free tie-in short stories to read! You should subscribe. No, really. You should.

COVER REVEAL – Until All the Gods Return

Releasing on May 25, 2021! Here’s the cover for book three in the Heart of Fire series, Until All the Gods Return. Available for pre-order now!

A New Short Story!

I promised it last year, and it’s finally here.

I’ve written a short story tie-in with Viridia and the Dragontek Lore series. The character Richard Onyx shows up out of nowhere in chapter one of Viridia. He’s reluctant to speak about his past, though he admits to being part of a previous rebellion in the city of Atramentous.

This is the story of Rick’s final day in Atramentous. The end of one rebellion and the beginning of a new one. Before he can leave Atramentous, Rick must deal with the deadly wrath of the draconic, Naram-Sin Black…

There’s only one way to read this story, along with the Heart of Fire tie-in story, The Leper’s Second Kill. Sign up for my newsletter! Not only will you get links to both of those stories, but you’ll be able to keep up with all of my news about writing and other stuff, and you’ll get regular special offers for other books! What have you got to lose? Sign up now!

Another Book!

Just a quick note here. Today, I finished writing the first draft of Incarnadine, book two of the Dragontek Lore series! I think fans of Beryl and his dragon-fighting team will enjoy this second (absolutely bonkers) journey into the cities of The Circle.

That means I currently have two books in the editing process! Until All the Gods Return is getting closer to the completion of that step, and I’m hoping to release it in May. (Psst. The cover is awesome!)

What will I write tomorrow? I have that short story tie-in for Dragontek Lore that I really, really need to finish. Why do short stories take me longer than novels?

And I need to plot out the fourth and final book of Heart of Fire before I start actually writing it. So much to do!

Discovery Writing

Photo by Robert V. Ruggiero on Unsplash

When writers discuss how they write, the question often comes up: “Are you a plotter or a pantser?” In other words, do you plot/plan out a book before writing it, or do you just write “by the seat of your pants” and see what happens?

In my case, the answer is: Yes. Both. Let me explain…

For the Heart of Fire series, I have a rough plot outline. I’ve known from the start how each book ends (Yes, I know how the last book ends!), and some of the major moments along the way. Then I’ve connected those dots, like “Marshal needs to travel to this spot, while Seri does this, and that will lead into this, etc.” At the same time, there is plenty of room in between plot points for subplots, character moments, and so on. 

For the Dragontek Lore series, things are different. The characters drive the entire story, for the most part. I know where I want the book to end, but I don’t have a set pathway to get there. Instead, I let things happen as they will. Basically, it comes down to two questions: 

  1. What unexpected (but logical) thing could happen here?
  2. How will this character react to it?

Question one comes into play when I’m not sure what should happen next. For example, in Viridia, the characters started to get complacent in their hideout. The story could be in danger of getting static, which is not allowed in these books. So what unexpected thing could happen? The bad guys find their hideout. Oops. And then how will each character react to this happening, both the heroes and the antagonist? This led to a pretty spectacular action sequence, in my humble opinion.

Now note that the “unexpected thing” wasn’t entirely unexpected. It was a logical outcome. The bad guys were looking for their hideout already. But the timing of the discovery was unexpected, at least to the heroes.

Anything can lead to new story elements. In the current book, Incarnadine, I’m writing a sequence of scenes where the heroes are exploring a new (forbidden) location. There are guards and locks keeping them from exploring areas that might be more interesting. Then they come across a locked elevator.

Logically, these particular characters, with their unique abilities, could pry open the elevator doors and climb the shaft. Now would they do it? That’s where I have to let the characters decide. Based on what I know of these particular characters, would they do this? They may debate it among themselves, because they don’t all agree. Then, based on what I know of these characters, who makes the final decision? What is it? (You’ll have to wait for the book to find out.)

Now if this character climbs the elevator shaft, what will be discovered there? I don’t entirely know yet, but I have some ideas based on this world and the people who are running this location.

This is discovery writing. I’m not so much “writing by the seat of my pants” as I am following the logical outgrowths of this world, its characters, and previous events. I didn’t KNOW the question of climbing the elevator shaft would come up until I was actually there. I discovered the situation as it happened.

If this sounds utterly bizarre to you… welcome to the mind of a writer…

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